Why We Are In Trouble At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Why NRC Nuclear Safety Inspections are Necessary: Indian PointDave LochbaumThis is the second in a series of commentaries about the vital role nuclear safety inspections conducted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) play in protecting the public. The initial commentary described how NRC inspectors discovered that limits on the maximum allowable control room air temperature at the Columbia Generating Station in Washington had been improperly relaxed by the plant’s owner. This commentary describes a more recent finding by NRC inspectors about animproper safety assessment of a leaking cooling water system pipe on Entergy’s Unit 3 reactor at Indian Point outside New York City.Indian Point Unit 3: Leak Before BreakOn February 3, 2017, the NRC issued Indian Point a Green finding for a violation of Appendix B to 10 CFR Part 50. Specifically, the owner failed to perform an adequate operability review per its procedures after workers discovered water leaking from a service water system pipe.On April 27, 2016, workers found water leaking from the pipe downstream of the strainer for service water (SW) pump 31. As shown in Figure 1, SW pump 31 is one of six service water pumps located within the intake structure alongside the Hudson River. The six SW pumps are arranged in two sets of three pumps. Figure 1 shows SW pumps 31, 32, and 33 aligned to provide water drawn from the Hudson River to essential (i.e, safety and emergency) components within Unit 3. SW pumps 34, 35, and 36 are aligned to provide cooling water to non-essential equipment within Unit 3.

Fig. 1 (Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Plant Information Book) (click to enlarge)Each SW pump is designed to deliver 6,000 gallons of flow. During normal operation, one SW pump can handle the essential loads while two SW pumps are needed for the non-essential loads. Under accident conditions, two SW pumps are needed to cool the essential equipment. The onsite emergency diesel generators can power either of the sets of three pumps, but not both simultaneously. If the set of SW pumps aligned to the essential equipment aren’t getting the job done, workers can open/close valves and electrical breakers to reconfigure the second set of three SW pumps to the essential equipment loops.Because river water can have stuff in it that could clog some of the coolers for essential equipment, each SW pump has a strainer that attempts to remove as much debris as possible from the water. The leak discovered on April 27, 2016, was in the piping between the discharge check valve for SW pump 31 and its strainer. An arrow points to this piping section in Figure 1. The strainers were installed in openings called pits in the thick concrete floor of the intake structure. Water from the leaking pipe flowed into the pit housing the strainer for SW pump 31.The initial leak rate was modest—estimated to be about one-eighth of a gallon per minute. The leak was similar to other pinhole leaks that had occurred in the concrete-lined, carbon steel SW pipes. The owner began daily checks on the leakage and prepared an operability determination. Basically, “operability determinations” are used within the nuclear industry when safety equipment is found to be impaired or degraded. The operability determination for the service water pipe leak concluded that the impairment did not prevent the SW pumps from fulfilling their required safety function. The operability determination relied on a sump pump located at the bottom of the strainer pit transferring the leaking water out of the pit before the water flooded and submerged safety components.The daily checks instituted by the owner included workers recording the leak rate and assessing whether it had significantly increased. But the checks were against the previous day’s leak rate rather than the initial leak rate. By September 18, 2016, the leakage had steadily increased by a factor of 64 to 8 gallons per minute. But the daily incremental increases were small enough that they kept workers from finding the overall increase to be significant.The daily check on October 15, 2016, found the pump room flooded to a depth of several inches. The leak rate was now estimated to be 20 gallons per minute. And the floor drain in the strainer pit was clogged (ironic, huh?) impairing the ability of its sump pump to remove the water. Workers placed temporary sump pumps in the room to remove the flood water and cope with the insignificantly higher leak rate. On October 17, workers installed a clamp on the pipe that reduced the leakage to less than one gallon per minute.The operability determination was revised in response to concerns expressed by the NRC inspectors. The NRC inspectors were not satisfied by the revised operability determination. It continued to rely on the strainer pit sump pump removing the leaking water. But that sump pump was not powered from the emergency diesel generator and thus would not remove water should offsite power become unavailable. Step 5.6.4 of procedure EN-OP-14, “Operability Determination Process,” stated “If the Operability is based on the use or availability of other equipment, it must be verified that the equipment is capable of performing the function utilized in the evaluation.”The operability determination explicitly stated that no compensatory measures or operator manual actions were needed to handle the leak, but the situation clearly required both compensatory measures and operator manual actions.The NRC inspectors found additional deficiencies in the revised operability determination. The NRC inspectors calculated that a 20 gallon per minute leak rate coupled with an unavailable strainer pit sump pump would flood the room to a depth of three feet in three hours. There are no flood alarms in the room and the daily checks might not detect flooding until the level rose to three feet. At that level, water would submerge and potentially disable the vacuum breakers for the SW pumps. Proper vacuum breaker operation could be needed to successfully restart the SW pumps.The NRC inspectors calculated that the 20 gallon per minute leak rate without remediation would flood the room to the level of the control cabinets for the strainers in 10 hours. The submerged control cabinets could disable the strainers, leading to blocked cooling water flow to essential equipment.The NRC inspects calculated that the 20 gallon per minute leak rate without remediation would completely fill the room in about 29 hours, or only slightly longer than the daily check interval.Flooding to depths of 3 feet, 10 feet, and the room’s ceiling affected all six SW pumps. Thus, the flooding represented a common mode threat that could disable the entire service water system. In turn, all safety equipment shown in Figure 2 no longer cooled by the disabled service water system could also be disabled. The NRC estimated that the flooding risk was about 5×10-6 per reactor year, solidly in the Green finding band.

Fig. 2 (Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Plant Information Book) (click to enlarge)UCS Perspective“Leak before break” is a longstanding nuclear safety philosophy. Books have been written about it (well, at least one report has been written and may even have been read.)  The NRC’s approval of a leak before break analysis can allow the owner of an existing nuclear power reactor to remove pipe whip restraints and jet impingement barriers. Such hardware guarded against the sudden rupture of a pipe filled with high pressure fluid from damaging safety equipment in the area. The leak before break analyses can provide the NRC with sufficient confidence that piping degradation will be detected by observed leakage with remedial actions taken before the pipe fails catastrophically. More than a decade ago, the NRC issued a Knowledge Management document on the leak before break philosophy and acceptable methods of analyzing, monitoring, and responding to piping degradation.This incident at Indian Point illustrated an equally longstanding nuclear safety practice of “leak before break.” In this case, the leak was indeed followed by a break. But the break was not the failure of the piping but failure of the owner to comply with federal safety regulations. Pipe breaks are bad. Regulation breaks are bad. Deciding which is worse is like trying to decide which eye one wants to be poked in. None is far better than either.As with the prior Columbia Generating Station case study, this Indian Point case study illustrates the vital role that NRC’s enforcement efforts plays in nuclear safety. Even after NRC inspectors voiced clear concerns about the improperly evaluated service water system pipe leak, Entergy failed to properly evaluate the situation, thus violating federal safety regulations. To be fair to Entergy, the company was probably doing its best, but in recent years, Entergy’s best has been far below nuclear industry average performance levels.The NRC’s ROP is the public’s best protection against hazards caused by aging nuclear power reactors, shrinking maintenance budgets, emerging sabotage threats, and Entergy.Replacing the NRC’s engineering inspections with self-assessments by Entergy would lessen the effectiveness of that protective shield.The NRC must continue to protect the public to the best of its ability. Delegating safety checks to owners like Entergy is inconsistent with that important mission.Support from UCS members make work like this possible. Will you join us? Help UCS advance independent science for a healthy environment and a safer world.

Pie in the Sky Nuclear Dream: Revelation 16

Elimination of nuclear weapons, arms control and strategic stability

Muhammad Zamir |Published: August 08, 2021 20:31:57

| Updated: August 08, 2021 20:46:58 

We have had some interesting observations from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pertaining to the critical areas associated with military spending in a world already troubled by the Covid pandemic that has already resulted in more than 4 million deaths round the world and serious impact on the socio economic sectors in countries irrespective of their status within the development paradigm.

In this context one needs to refer to some interesting comments made recently by Daryl G. Kimball, an Arms Control specialist based in Washington DC, USA. He has drawn attention to the fact that “after more than a decade of rising tensions and growing nuclear competition between the two largest nuclear-weapon states, U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed in principle during their June 16 summit to engage in a robust strategic stability dialogue to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.” In this context connotations and awareness have also been drawn to another meeting that had taken place in 1985 between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev where the two had also reaffirmed the commonsense principle that suggests that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

This denotes that over the years there is a realisation that the present status quo pertaining to production of nuclear weapons and diversification of such weapons are dangerous and not sustainable. Strategists are also reiterating that it does not make sense to stand on the brink of a possible nuclear catastrophe. Quite correctly, it is being advised that we need a course correction, according to Kimball, by “promptly beginning a robust, bilateral, results-oriented nuclear risk reduction and disarmament dialogue.”

Attention is also being drawn to the fact that the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the last remaining bilateral nuclear arms control agreement will expire in 2026 and there is comparatively little time to complete the desired negotiation process directed towards further reduction of both strategic and nonstrategic nuclear stockpiles.

In this connection other analysts have also reiterated that both Biden and Putin need to reiterate, along with other nuclear powers, that the primary purpose for producing and possessing nuclear weapons is to deter or respond only to a nuclear attack, not non-nuclear threats.

We all need to understand that even a limited use of any nuclear weapon can have catastrophic effects for those in conflict and also others who are in the sub-region. Luckily, nuclear weapons have not been used in combat since the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

One may recall that in 2018, the USA in its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) expanded the “extreme circumstances” under which the United States would contemplate first use of nuclear weapons. It was decided that such a decision would include “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” against “U.S., allied or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.” It was also noted in this regard that “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” could include chemical and biological attacks, large-scale conventional aggression, and cyber attacks.

Russia, from its own perspective, created their matrix. In 2020 it pointed out that it reserved the right to use nuclear weapons “in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.”

Such an approach appeared to be similar to what Biden held up in March 2020 in an essay in the Foreign Affairs. He observed, “I believe that the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring-and, if necessary, retaliating against-a nuclear attack.” Biden, as a presidential candidate, also said “United States does not need new nuclear weapons.” Nevertheless, his fiscal year 2022 budget has proposed funding for a new nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile, one of the two new low-yield options pursued by Trump to provide additional strike options in a regional war.

On June 15, 2021 the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) informed the world that the world’s nine nuclear armed states have downsized their military arsenals, but made up for their loss by increasing the number of weapons on high operational alert. As a result of these dynamics, the world has increasingly come within striking distance of nuclear weapons-either by accident or by design.

The study says the nine countries — USA, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — collectively possess an estimated 13,080 nuclear weapons at the start of 2021. This was a decrease from the 13, 400 that SIPRI estimated these States possessed at the beginning of 2020, since some of these weapons have gone into “retirement”.

Kimball, obviously worried like many other strategic analysts, has consequently proposed that when the Security Council’s Permanent Members — USA, Russia, China and the UK– meet in France later this year on nuclear matters, it should endorse the Biden-Putin statement to signal a shared interest in avoiding nuclear war and agree to launch an expanded set of talks on nuclear risk reduction and arms control.

The study says the nine countries collectively possessed an estimated 13,080 nuclear weapons at the start of 2021. This was a decrease from the 13, 400 that SIPRI estimated these states possessed at the beginning of 2020, since some of these weapons have gone into “retirement”. However, despite this overall decrease, the estimated number of nuclear weapons currently deployed with operational forces has increased to 3,825, from 3,720 last year. Around 2,000 of these-nearly all of which belong to Russia or the US-have been kept in a state of high operational alert ready for strike.

Meanwhile, China’s military expenditure, the second highest in the world, is estimated to have totaled $252 billion in 2020. This represents an increase of 1.9 per cent over 2019 and 76 per cent over the decade 2011-20. China’s spending has risen for 26 consecutive years, the longest series of uninterrupted increases by any country according to the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database.

In the meantime, a new report released last week by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has warned that nuclear-armed States had spent US Dollar 72.6 billion on their nuclear weapons, regardless of the persistent pandemic spread in 2020– an increase of US Dollar1.4 billion from 2019. Despite the shocking health and economic consequences last year, some governments have been increasingly channeling tax money to defence contractors, who are gaining from this exercise through greater amounts being paid to lobbyists.

It may also be noted here that out of the US Dollar 72.6 billion that countries spent on nuclear weapons in 2020 globally, US Dollar 27.7 billion went to less than a dozen defence contractors to build nuclear weapons, which in turn spent more than US Dollar 117 million in lobbying expenses.

Dr Rebecca Johnson of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy (AIDD) and a UK-based member of ICAN’s Steering Group has observed significantly that “the UN system is struggling because its efforts to build cooperative peace and security are constantly undermined and strangled by aggressive nation states. Most people can see we need cooperation and sharing to solve global challenges, from vaccines to sustainable resources”. In this regard Dr Johnson has also stated that stigmatising and banning nuclear weapons not only affects the profits of military-industrial businesses, but the careers of many bureaucrats, academics and politicians who for decades have promoted spending taxpayer’s money on these weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) instead of investing more in their countries’ health, education, peace-building relations and environment-saving technologies.

We need to remember that the United Nations which is desperately seeking funds to help developing nations battling a staggering array of socio-economic problems, including extreme poverty, hunger, economic inequalities and environmental hazards has continued to be one of the strongest advocates of disarmament. The world body has relentlessly campaigned for reduced military spending in an attempt to help divert some of these resources into sustainable development and humanitarian assistance. Time has now come for all of us to come forward and create greater arms control for strategic stability.

It would also be pertinent at this point to remember that the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) has pointed out that over the past century, governments have been seeking ways to reach a global agreement on reductions in military expenditures. Different proposals in this regard have been discussed in the League of Nations, and later in the United Nations for the last seven decades. Early proposals in the UN focused on reducing the expenditures of States with large militaries, and on freeing up funds for development aid. However, according to the UNODA there has never been unanimity with regard to any proposal.

Dr. Natalie J. Goldring, a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University has also commented that “the latest military spending data from SIPRI are difficult to reconcile with the reality of the world we live in today”. It has also been added that “Unfortunately, the United States continues to lead the world in military spending, accounting for 39 percent of the global total”. She has also observed that even though the global economy as measured by global gross domestic product (GDP) has decreased by 4.4 per cent, global military spending has increased 2.6 per cent over the year, proceeding in exactly the wrong direction.

One needs to conclude here by referring to recent views expressed by the International Peace Bureau, based in Berlin. They have requested United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres not only to make greater efforts to help reduce global military spending and nuclear disarmament but also emphasised the need for the reallocation of money from the military to healthcare, social, and environmental needs – to achieve the fulfillment of the Social Development Goals.

Muhammad Zamir, a former Ambassador, is an analyst specialised in foreign affairs, right to information and good governance. muhammadzamir0@gmail.com

U.S. and Japan Mobilize Against the Chinese Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi attends an online meeting with Mekong River basin countries on Saturday. | FOREIGN MINISTRY / VIA KYODO
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi attends an online meeting with Mekong River basin countries on Saturday. | FOREIGN MINISTRY / VIA KYODO

U.S. and Japan express concern over China’s nukes and moves in South China Sea

Washington/Tokyo –

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi attends an online meeting with Mekong River basin countries on Saturday. | FOREIGN MINISTRY / VIA KYODO

The United States and Japan expressed concerns over the situation in the South China Sea, where Beijing has been aggressively pushing its territorial claims, and took up China’s nuclear arms issue during talks with ASEAN and partner nations Friday.

Speaking at the foreign ministerial meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum, one of the few international security dialogue frameworks in which North Korea participates, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined other countries in calling for Pyongyang’s denuclearization while urging ARF members to press Myanmar’s junta to end its violence against the people, according to the State Department.

The meeting of the 27-member ARF, which also includes countries such as China and South Korea, was held as part of this week’s series of virtual gatherings related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Brunei is serving as ASEAN’s chair this year.

Ongoing U.S.-China tensions cast a shadow over the event, with Blinken calling on Beijing to “cease its provocative behavior in the South China Sea” and raising “serious concerns” about its alleged human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority in the western Xinjiang region as well as in Hong Kong and Tibet.

The top U.S. diplomat also noted “deep concern” over the rapid growth of China’s nuclear arsenal, saying it highlights how Beijing has “sharply deviated from its decades-old nuclear strategy based on minimum deterrence,” according to the State Department.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told the meeting that he wants to encourage China, along with other countries, to fulfill the responsibilities of a nuclear-weapons state, touching on an agreement between the United States and Russia earlier this year to extend the last remaining treaty capping their nuclear arsenals.

He called for Beijing to “engage in bilateral dialogue with the United States on arms control,” according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Turning to the situation in the East and South China seas, Motegi stated that unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force are “continuing and intensifying” in the waters, in a veiled criticism of Beijing’s assertiveness there.

“Japan strongly opposes this,” Motegi was quoted as saying in the ministry’s press release.

Beijing has frequently sent official vessels to waters around the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea in an attempt to lay claim to them. It has also built artificial islands with military infrastructure in the South China Sea, claiming sovereignty over almost the entire maritime area.

China has conflicting territorial claims with four of the 10 ASEAN members — Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam — as well as Taiwan in the South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that “interference by countries outside the region constituted the biggest threat to peace and stability” in the South China Sea, and the abuse of “freedom of navigation” should be resisted by the nations in the region, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

U.S. warships have carried out freedom of navigation operations there in an apparent bid to counter Chinese claims and actions in the sea, a strategic waterway through which more than one-third of global trade passes.

On North Korea’s nuclear issue, Motegi expressed Japan’s “strong hope” for a resumption of dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang and emphasized that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga remains willing to meet directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without any preconditions, according to the Japanese ministry.

In response, participants pointed out the importance of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and full implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, the ministry said.

But Wang called for an easing of sanctions on North Korea to seek a breakthrough on the issue, and expressed his opposition to joint military drills expected to be held between the United States and South Korea later this month.

The exercises “fall short of a constructive move under the current circumstances,” the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Wang as saying.

He also took a veiled swipe at the United States as it pursues engagement with Southeast Asian nations as a way to shore up international support to counter China’s rise.

“There should be no more ‘lecturers’ or ‘saviors.’ The destiny of each country should lie in the hands of these countries themselves, and the future of the region should be jointly created by all countries in the region,” Wang was quoted as saying.

On the current situation in Myanmar, Motegi voiced grave concerns and welcomed the appointment of Brunei’s second foreign minister Erywan Yusof as special envoy to the country, tasked with facilitating dialogue between the military rulers and their opponents following the Feb. 1 coup.

Japan fully supports the envoy’s activities and hopes they will lead to the start of a dialogue between the parties concerned and other developments in the near term, Motegi was quoted as saying.

The ARF comprises the 10 ASEAN states as well as China, Japan, the United States, Russia, North and South Korea, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the European Union, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, East Timor, Mongolia and Sri Lanka.

According to a source from a Southeast Asian country, North Korea was represented by its ambassador to Indonesia rather than its foreign minister during the ARF meeting.

Biden Still Wants an Obama-Iran Deal

Team Biden’s nuke-deal talks are positively absurd after Iran’s latest deadly attack

President Joe Biden’s insistence on resuming Team Obama’s disastrous 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran has truly entered the world of the absurd: Even as Biden officials entertain talks with Tehran, they’ve also been coordinating with the United Kingdom, Romania and Israel to launch a retaliatory response following what is believed to be an Iranian-backed strike on a ship last week that left two dead.

Iran and its proxies have attacked ships and other targets for years, yet the hit on the Israel-managed petroleum tanker Mercer Street off the coast of Oman July 30 was the first recent maritime attack to entail fatalities, that of a Brit and a Romanian.

“Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “We are working with our partners to consider our next steps and consulting with governments inside the region and beyond on an appropriate response, which will be forthcoming.”

And if you think Iran might suddenly become a reasonable, good-faith negotiating partner now that a new president took office Thursday, recall that its new leader, Ebrahim Raisi, is a hardline devotee to the Islamic Revolution — with oceans of blood on his hands. 

Good luck trying to make a meaningful deal with a regime like this. Indeed, Iran has reportedly made a new demand: that the United States guarantee it’ll never walk away from the pact, as President Donald Trump wisely did with the last one.

“They once violated the nuclear deal at no cost by exiting it,” warned Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who actually holds all the power. “Now they explicitly say that they cannot give guarantees that it would not happen again.”

Never mind that the old deal paved the way for Iran to get nukes in a matter of years. And did nothing about its terrorism or belligerence throughout the region. Never mind Iran’s breaches of the deal, such as stockpiling enriched uranium at its underground plant at Natanz.

Here’s a better idea than for Team Biden to continue to deal with terrorist thugs who can’t be trusted: Don’t negotiate at all, but simply dictate the terms for the removal of sanctions and leave it to Iran to comply. 

If Iran can’t first prove that it will forswear nuclear weapons for good, it doesn’t deserve any of the benefits a Biden deal will bestow.

The Iranian Horn can build nuclear bomb in weeks: Daniel 8

Iran could build nuclear bomb `within 10 weeks`

Iran could build nuclear bomb `within 10 weeks`

Iran could acquire enough nuclear material to build a bomb within just 10 weeks, Israel has warned, reports dailymail.com.

Defence minister Benny Gantz sounded the alarm over Iran’s nuclear stockpile at the UN Security Council this week, urging world leaders to take action.

‘Iran… is only around 10 weeks away from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,’ Gantz said

‘Now is the time for deeds – words are not enough,’ he added. ‘It is time for diplomatic, economic and even military deeds.’

Gantz’s warning comes four months after Iran said it would start enriching uranium to 60 per cent purity, a key step on the path to 90 per cent enriched uranium that is required to make a bomb.

Shortly before Iran began increasing the purity of its uranium stockpile, analysts from the Arms Control Association estimated that its ‘breakout time’ – the time it would take to produce enough material for one bomb – was 12 months.

Now, Gantz believes the breakout time has been reduced to a little over two months.

However, that does not mean that Iran is 10 weeks away from acquiring a fully-fledged nuclear bomb.

To build a weapon, Iran would have to encase the weapons-grade material in a nuclear core, mount the core on the tip of a missile, and then acquire the technology to launch it, have it land accurately on a target, and detonate.

While little is known for certain about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, the regime is not thought to possess much of this technology.

Some analysts believe it would take Iran two to three years just to produce a viable warhead, assuming they were able to work on it without outside interference.

David Albright, a former weapons inspector, has previously said that Tehran could advance the process much quicker – but still believes the regime is around two years away from having a viable nuke.

Iran is also not thought to possess intercontinental ballistic missiles of the kind required to launch a nuclear weapon at the West.


Risk for the Sixth Seal in this region: Revelation 6:12

Low to moderate risk for earthquake in this region, despite recent shake in Maryland, experts say

By Shen Wu Tan

Geological experts say the risk of earthquakes for Maryland and Virginia remains low to moderate following a small earthquake in Clarksville and ahead of the upcoming 10th anniversary of a larger earthquake in Virginia, although they note the science still cannot predict when earthquakes will happen or how strong they will be.

A 2.1 magnitude earthquake shook parts of Howard County near Clarksville, Maryland, early Wednesday, prompting nearly 750 people to report feeling the vibrations to the U.S. Geological Survey(USGS). The USGS has also recorded two other earthquakes near Clarksville this year: a 1.6 magnitude earthquake near Irvington on June 27 and a 2.6 earthquake near Woodlawn on June 25.

The Columbia, Maryland, region usually sees one to three earthquakes a year with magnitudes ranging from 1.5 to 2.5, according to Richard Ortt, director of the Maryland Geological Survey. He said there are likely many more smaller tremors with magnitudes lower than 1.5, but those can be difficult to detect.

“There should be no cause for alarm from these earthquakes. These events are relatively small.  More importantly, we are not sitting on a tectonic fault line where there is active plate movement below our feet,” Mr. Ortt said. “The earthquakes that we experience are from ancient — hundreds of millions of years old — weak points inside of the North American Plate that are relieving some internal pressure built up from multiple reasons.”

He added there is no reason to think that these earthquakes should increase in numbers or strength and that the region should continue to experience one to three earthquakes a year.

However, one can not predict when these will occur,” he noted.

Virginia has recorded two earthquakes so far this year: a 2.2 magnitude earthquake near Ashland on June 22 and a 2.3 magnitude earthquake near Deerfield on Jan. 16. Last year, Virginia recorded a couple of earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.0 or greater, while Maryland didn’t record any detectable earthquakes, USGS data showed.

Mr. Ortt noted that Virginia is at a slightly increased risk for earthquakes than Maryland, but even in Virginia described the risk as low to moderate.

Don Blakeman, a geophysicist at the USGS’ National Earthquake Information Center, said small earthquakes can happen just about anywhere in the U.S., although North Dakota and Florida don’t see much activity.

“Almost any state can have these little quakes. We see them all the time,” he said. “Even though they are not on the margins, the edges of tectonic crustal plates, which is where most earthquakes are, on the edge of the plate. … There are still stresses throughout the crust in almost all places in the world and so that’s how you get these little quakes.”

Could there be a big one?

“It’s certainly possible,” he said, referring to the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Mineral, Virginia, 10 years ago this month on Aug. 23, 2011.

The earthquake, which tens of millions of people along the East Coast felt, damaged the National Cathedral, the Armed Forces Retirement Home and the Washington Monument in the District of Columbia. It was the largest earthquake in the eastern U.S. since the 5.8 earthquake in 1944 near Cornwall and Massena, New York, according to the USGS.

“Those are pretty rare,” Mr. Blakeman said of the 5.8 magnitude earthquakes. “It’s possible that a much larger quake like that could happen, but the occurrence of these little ones doesn’t indicate that one way or another. They are not like foreshocks or harbingers of bigger quakes or anything like that.”

“There just isn’t enough science. There isn’t anybody who can predict when a specific earthquake is going to happen or where,” he said. “History’s just shown us that we just see these little quakes all the time without any major other quakes occurring.”

The Mineral, Virginia, earthquake occurred in what scientists call the “Central Virginia Seismic Zone.” The USGS said it identified more than 4,000 aftershocks from the 2011 earthquake in analyses so far.

Compared to the West, the USGS said the Mineral earthquake showed how much farther ground shaking can stretch in the eastern U.S., which has faults on older rocks that allow seismic waves to cross them more efficiently when an earthquake hits. The agency added the eastern U.S. has many older structures that were built before the 1970s and not designed to withstand strong shaking from earthquakes.

While earthquakes are not a significant risk of danger for the area, Mr. Ortt said they are something everyone should be ready for.

“The most likely areas to see damage are higher masonry structures that are aged. All families should have a plan for any disaster including an earthquake,” he said.

Antichrist’s men stand by boycott of Iraqi general elections

Photo: Archive
Photo: Archive

Sadr advisor stands by boycott of Iraqi general elections

“No member of the movement has the right to support, publish or promote any candidate whatsoever.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The decision by one of Iraq’s top Shia clerics, Muqtada al-Sadr, to withdraw from the upcoming October election is definitive, an advisor to the political kingmaker said on Friday.

“Al-Sadr’s decision not to participate in the 10-10-2021 election is a final, decisive, and irreversible decision,” Hassan al-Adhari said in a statement.

The influential cleric announced on July 15 that his political movement had withdrawn from Iraq’s upcoming federal elections, planned for Oct. 10 this year.

Sadr later announced the dissolution of the movement’s office.

Adhari added, “no member of the movement has the right to support, publish or promote any candidate whatsoever.”

Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission has insisted the election will not be postponed, despite previous delays, and the withdrawal of the Sadrists and other political parties.

Early elections were among the leading demands of anti-government protests in late 2019 that ultimately resulted in former prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi’s resignation. Mustafa al-Kadhimi replaced Abdul Mahdi in May 2020, after months of political jockeying in the legislature.

The Iraqi Council of Ministers voted unanimously during its session held on Jan. 19, to postpone its upcoming election this year from early June to the newly-scheduled date of Oct. 10.